A sword-fighting assassin brings a baby to the Old West in The Warrior’s Way, an odd little cowboy-kung-fu fusion movie to cleanse the palate between holiday blockbusters.
Yang (Dong-gun Jang) is the greatest swordsman who ever lived, capable of cutting down his enemies in seconds. He is an assassin for the Sad Flute clan and is sworn to kill every member of a warring clan. He does — almost. He finds a baby he eventually calls April (Analin Rudd), the last living member of the clan of his sworn enemies. But he can not kill her. Instead, he hops a boat and takes her across the Pacific to the dusty American desert town of Lode, where he hopes to find an old friend, and keep her hidden from the Sad Flutes who would likely want to kill them both. The man has long since died but a young woman he tried to teach sword fighting to is still there — Lynne (Kate Bosworth). She convinces Yang to take over his friend’s laundry, and Yang and April soon become beloved members of this grumpy but close-knit community, which happens to contain a fair amount of former circus folk, including unofficial mayor-type Eight-Ball (Tony Cox), and a drunk with a mysterious past (Geoffrey Rush). They are hoping to start up their circus and bring tourists to the dusty town. But first they have to figure out how to keep the villainous outlaw known as the Colonel (Danny Huston) and his men away.
Put a B-movie Western, an Asian swordfighting movie like Hero or House of Flying Daggers and the TV show Carnivale in a cocktail shaker and the tart little gimlet you’ll have is The Warrior’s Way. It is refreshingly weird, comic booky but with impressive visuals, action-filled but with a wry sense of humor. From the performances to the story itself, there is a loose feeling about this movie. This doesn’t feel like some tightly edited, obsessively perfected outing. And yet it’s not careless. There is some intention about the way the movie puts dusty, circus-attired people in a yellow and orange town or uses assassins dressed in black against a snowy landscape or a red sky. From its title to its opening slow-mo fight, The Warrior’s Way appears to be nothing special but it is thoroughly enjoyable in a way plenty of bigger movies haven’t been lately. B
Rated R for strong bloody violence. Written and directed by Sngmoo Lee, The Warrior’s Way is an hour and 40 minutes long and distributed by Relatively Media.